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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Financial Challenges

At the beginning of each year I take a hard look at our finances.   I also do regular checks throughout the year, but January, after the busyness of Christmas is over, there is more time to really look at every expense thoroughly.  Its also that time of year when there are more gov't taxes taken off my pay cheque, so there is less take home pay too.

Throughout the year those regular bills creep up and services stay the same, or are reduced.    Each year I  give some of these services a call to either cut the service level to reduce our bill or ask about what the latest promotion is.  If you don't ask, they don't offer.

For instance, our local cable company called and tried to get us to switch our telephone over to them for a very attractive offer (for one year...then after one year goes to the regular price).  I said I'd think about it and then gave our telephone company a call and told them that I'd been offered the attractive price to switch, and why should I stay with you?   Right away they gave me a reduction in my current bill plus a $75 credit.  If you don't ask, they don't offer.

January is also a time when I have more time to read.  I like to read financial type books to pick up more tips on where we can save.   I've done a number of changes over the years, such as cooking from scratch, canning/preserving, shop with a list, buy food on sale, use coupons, buy used whenever possible from thrift stores/garage sales, make/take my lunch to work, do our own taxes, renegotiated mortgage to a lower rate, started a vegetable garden, collect free wood for home heating, etc.   All these changes have become the usual for us, so I'm always looking new ideas.  I have a few favourite finance books, ones which I've read a couple of times.  Each time I've re-read these I pick up a few new tips. I've also learned a lot by reading other's blogs on ideas and ways to further reduce expenses.

My favourite books include:
1)  Your Money or Your Life
2)  Tightwad Gazette
3)  Gail Vaz-Oxlade books
4)  Ultimate Suburban Survivalists Guide.
5)  Joy of Less

Reading List for this year
1)  Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women & Money - Kevin O'Leary
2)  Money Rules - Gail Vaz Oxlade
3)  Money Rules - The Simple Path to Lifelong Security - Jean Chatzky

2013 Challenges
1)  Thoroughly review every bill to see where cuts can be made.  So far, after a couple changes I've managed to reduce a couple of bills by $150 a month, which included giving up cable TV.  Still working on this challenge to find more ways to reduce.  Every little bit adds up.
2)  Better manage our electricity use.  We are charged different rates depending on the time of day electricity is consumed.   The highest rate for us during winter months is during dinner time, when you're trying to cook a meal.   So I try not to use my oven every day, and cook more on weekends when the rate is the lowest or use the crockpot more, do laundry on weekends and avoid using the dryer, etc.
3)  Explore idea of working from home 1 or 2 days a week to reduce wear and tear on my 8 year old car and reduce fuel consumption.

What are your challenges?

9 comments:

  1. Nice to know someone else makes those calls to the phone, tv companies to see what they will give up to us, as you are right "no ask, no get".. Lots of challenges for us right now getting the business going in the right direction.. I find it impossible to budget but curb spending very tightly.

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  2. We reassess in January too, Janet. Having been thrifty all my life, sometimes it's hard to find new ways to cut the budget. This year we are going to get rid of our cable completely, the only reason we keep it is to watch the baseball games and it would be cheaper to watch on the computer via MLB. I find that using an inexpensive toaster oven to heat rolls and make small 8-inch square pans of cookies and cakes, saves a lot of electricity. Rarely use the big oven these days and it also doesn't get as warm in the kitchen during the summer. Now that my husband has retired, our income is one-eighth of what it used to be, but by preparing for retirement, by having the mortgage paid off, buying all the equipment we thought we might need in the future (new fridge and furnace), and building a nice little nest egg, retirement is a joy!

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    1. I do the same thing you do. Bell is my issue each and every year. They put add-ons, on the bill. I have to call to get rid of them, yet Bell is all we can get out here ( boonies). Wish it were different. I usually read the above stated books in the fall. It prepares me for January when I try and lower the budget each yet. You should also mention doing a spread sheet ( I use my google spread sheet in Drive). My finacial/budgeting blog is thefarmgirlfiles.blogspot.com

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  3. Oh I am so going to try this with my phone company.
    I love Gail's books she is one smart woman when it comes to dealing with money. Nice meeting you. B

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  4. I was really proud of myself, coming through the holiday period with no new debts and money IN the bank for a change. My DAUGHTER taught me shop all year, not last minute, for gifting occasions. But mostly I like to make gifts and goodness knows I sure have enough raw materials!
    We just did an assessment with Bell. Unfortunately they are our only option for phone in bush country. We have xplornet for internet out here, again the only option. They aren't overly expensive but their signal sure is temperamental. The Man of the house and I are considering selling our home in the woods and moving to a very small rural village in the near future. Houses are cheaper and not having to drive many many kilometers for everything will save us $.

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  5. Just called Bell the other week to have a chit chat about our bill AGAIN!! We too are limited with our choices out here in the countryside. If it were up to me I would get rid of the satellite tv, but dh loves his tv. Interent we have to use a local company, but it is fast and great service, and is well worth the $50 we pay each month.

    Gill

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  6. I am trying to figure out all who give up the satalite tv service do you just do without tv all together? We tried getting an antena for local service but there is no one that has them any more. Can you let us know what you do for tv or am I the only one hooked on a few shows? Nancy Settel sheepishgrin92@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Our 40 year old house has an old antena, which picks up about 10 channels. The picture is much better than cable was.

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